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Pensioners urged to speak out against cuts to household benefits package

2 August, 2011 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD

Sinn Féin social protection spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh has said cuts to the household benefits package and fuel allowance could lead to an increase in deaths this winter as a result of cold.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh today concluded a series of consultations with organisations representing older people and people with disabilities.

Over the last two weeks Deputy Ó Snodaigh has met with Age Action Ireland, the Irish Senior Citizens Parliament and the Disability Federation Ireland. Each organisation reaffirmed Sinn Féin’s view that the cuts to the household benefits package and fuel allowance will hit pensioners and people with disabilities very hard.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said today:

“These cuts were quietly announced by Joan Burton, Labour Party Minister for Social Protection and there is very little awareness of them amongst those affected. As a result there is a danger that many people will commence the winter months unprepared for the higher energy bills they will face.

“Sinn Féin will be distributing leaflets across the country informing people of the detail of the cuts and urging them to contact their local government TDs to object.

“The government has options. It does not have to make these cuts.

“The state is the biggest bulk purchaser of fuel in the country. The Government should have used its bulk purchasing power to negotiate savings from the energy provider. It is absolutely scandalous that they have instead chosen to cut the fuel available to people who really need it.

“The government has chosen the lazy and cowardly option. They are hitting people where it will hurt most. Not only will those affected by these cuts have to find significantly more cash to meet their fuel needs they will also have to find €100 for the government’s new household utility charge.

“The last two winters were particularly harsh and the coming winter may be just as bad or worse. There are already between 1,500 and 2,000 avoidable deaths here every year as a result of the cold.

“These cuts really can be the difference between life and death. I am calling on the government to make the right choice, keep their election promise, and reverse their decision.” ENDS

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